NHTI – Concord’s Community College
Associate of Science, Dental Hygiene, 2015
Amid life twists and turns, Kendra Kuba found her footing with a Dental Hygiene degree from NHTI – after taking a few years to choose her path. The Merrimack, NH native wanted a college experience that would lead to meaningful work, and she got that and more with the connections she made at NHTI to bring positive oral health practices to children across her community.
In high school, though, Kendra was not highly motivated. She followed her future husband to South Carolina, where he attended college and she worked as a bartender. When he graduated, the coupled moved back to Merrimack. Once in her home state, she knew it was time for her to “grow up.” After some soul searching and research, she decided she wanted to be a dental hygienist. NHTI was at the top of her list of potential schools because of the recommendations from those in a position to know best: dentists.
“I had several conversations with dentists to get their take on the best educational path,” said Kendra. “I was told time and time again that NHTI provides great job training for the real world. It’s also affordable and centrally located.”
Kendra also appreciated NHTI’s “connection and history with the community” in helping students take the first step in a professional career.
“This program taught me patience and confidence while motivating me to take care of my own oral health,” said Kendra. “It helped me become well-rounded in the professional sense – and that goes beyond just cleaning teeth.”
This connection in the community served her well. During her clinical rotations, Kendra was introduced to the Children’s Dentist Network (CDN). She spent the fall of 2014 as an intern, learning as much as she could with on-the-job dental hygiene training, including basic preventative care and fluoride treatments for kids.
While she gained valuable experience from the hygienists and dentists with whom she trained, it was the relationships she cultivated in CDN that secured her future after graduation.
“I wasn’t expecting the call from CDN, but it changed my life,” said Kendra. “The hygienist that ran the school program for 25 years was stepping down, and they asked me to come in as a public health education coordinator.”
CDN works with 27 schools in the greater Derry and Salem areas. Kendra collaborates with school nurses, assistants, and principals to organize annual in-class dental presentations that teach oral health to elementary-age students while providing dental services.
“CDN is such a great program in the community,” said Kendra, now the mother of two young children. “Regular dental care is so important, but not everyone has this privilege of having dental coverage. There is a lot of need out there. We provide preventative services like dental sealants and fluoride to hundreds of children every year.”
In 2018, Kendra became a certified public health dental hygienist and started working full-time at Ahern, Nichols, Hersey and Butterfield Family Dentistry, a private practice in Derry. She continues to volunteer with CDN to help achieve its mission.
The drive to keep growing professionally led her to complete her B.S. in Dental Hygiene at Vermont Technical College in December 2019. And she’s not done with the classroom yet: Her goal is to get her master’s in education and nutrition so she can teach at the college level.
As she reflects back on the last six years, she credits her time at NHTI with getting her started on her future goals: “Everything in my career connects back to NHTI. The program helps you build upon what you are learning and motivates you to continue your career.”